‘Who’s in charge? Me!’ Using simulation for band 5 nurses who are learning to lead

The Brief:

This case study explores the development and implementation of a simulation-based workshop aimed at enhancing the leadership skills of band 5 nurses within a National Health Service (NHS) trust. The workshop was designed to address the reticence of nurses in taking on ‘nurse in charge’ roles and to build their confidence in engaging in challenging conversations with an assertive approach. The goal was to support these nurses in developing the necessary skills and abilities outlined in the ‘Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education’ set out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The Problem:

Band 5 nurses within the NHS trust expressed their hesitation in assuming leadership roles and engaging in difficult conversations. This highlighted a need to address the confidence and skills gap among these nurses, specifically in relation to supervision and leadership. The trust recognized the importance of providing support and training to enable these nurses to fulfil their leadership responsibilities effectively.

The Requirement:

The trust partnered with an education provider to develop a simulation-based workshop that would help improve the leadership skills of band 5 nurses. The workshop needed to provide opportunities for participants to practice engaging in challenging conversations and assume leadership roles within simulated scenarios. The training aimed to enhance their ability to be assertive, effectively communicate, and demonstrate leadership qualities outlined by The Royal College of Nursing.

The Outcome:

The simulation-based workshop was integrated into a leadership development day and consisted of various scenarios facilitated by actors. These scenarios allowed participants to practice strategies such as emotional intelligence, motivation, shared goal creation, and courage. A communication framework called STEPS (start, time, empathy, provision of support, sense check) was provided to assist participants in preparing for and navigating challenging conversations.

Tangible Results:

The feedback from the 12 completed workshop sessions, involving a total of 180 participants, has been overwhelmingly positive. Attendees expressed their appreciation for the facilitators’ knowledge and kindness, as well as the effectiveness of the live actors in creating realistic scenarios. Participants reported increased confidence in assuming leadership roles and dealing with challenging situations. The STEPS communication framework was particularly praised for providing a helpful guide for professional communication in leadership positions.


The simulation-based workshop aligned with the leadership values set forth by The Royal College of Nursing and successfully supported 180 band 5 nurses in their leadership roles. The positive feedback received thus far indicates that the workshop has significantly contributed to the development of their leadership skills and confidence. Based on the success of the initial 12 sessions, an additional 12 sessions are planned, and feedback data will continue to be collected and analyzed to further assess the impact of the workshop on participants’ performance and leadership abilities